Prioritise your needs

What is the most important human need?

Some seem to think that it is health. Many people spend countless hours developing their bodies and trying to eat right to maintain good health. Others spend most of their time and energy focused on making money and accumulating material possessions in the name of security and comfort. Artists feel the need to express themselves at all costs us while thrill seekers jump out of planes to have their rush. Beyond all of the targets that we set, perhaps what we need and truly desire is much more simple. What we need to keep us going and what gives us deep satisfaction may not be as difficult to acquire as we think.


A person may have all the wealth and health in the world but without someone to share it with, is it much more than a day, a week or a months enjoyment? Beyond the thrills and pleasures that materials and sensations give us, I think what really matters is feeling loved and accepted. Only once our ideas and our abilities have been approved by our peers do we feel a sense of joy and accomplishment. I believe this is what we crave and seek beneath our more glamorous and crude desires. Success is, after all, relative and constantly changing. I know that on the days when I feel like I have so much to offer yet have no chance of sharing it with others I feel unfulfilled. The connection we feel when sharing thoughts and sharing experiences is much more valuable than a wealth of inanimate objects or a lonely idea.

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If this idea is indeed relevant, the trick is finding out how to make others feel loved and accepted first and then allowing yourself to feel this way as well. If this is achieved, if we could feel appreciated and recognised simply by being who we are,  perhaps we would not spend so much time and effort in a struggle to acquire things and experiences in an effort to fill ourselves up? I don’t think we should shy away from experiences or aim not to acquire things that we enioy. What I’m suggesting is that we have it backwards; we value and put most of our time and effort into activities which we hope will bring us closer to what we seek, when all we have to do is simply recognise the joy in appreciating ourselves and one another.

The need to be accepted and loved is more fundamental and therefore more important than the need to have or the need to experience physical pleasure. It should thus be the foundation for pursuing and enjoying our experiences. Take a deep breath and acknowledge yourself and how far you have come. Allow yourself to feel happy and fulfilled. It may then be easier and more enjoyable to go out and pursue our goals supported by a solid foundation of self worth and a relaxed state of mind.

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When Boundaries Dissolve

Each piece of land, each property in a town or city is a certain size with a certain colour wall surrounding it. Within these walls the workings of each family, business or organisation operates in unique ways. However, beneath all of the walls, fences, gates, roads and buildings, it is all just one big piece of land. Every town and city is ultimately just one piece of land. The whole world in fact, is just one giant sphere with a plethora of landscapes. It’s interesting to then consider how we draw arbitrary lines across the earth and assign one side to a group of people and the other side to another group of people, in very simplistic terms.

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We then turn most of our focus inward and develop our world within those borders. We call ourselves certain names, create our own songs and design flags and rituals as part of our identity. This I think is a positve thing. Cultural identity is something that perhaps we need to feel. A certain amount of ego is perhaps healthy and gives us a sense of unity and well being.

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If we zoom in and consider the family home as a microcosm of the larger outside world, we see similar patterns of identity; family names, values, ambitions and ways of behaving. These identities allow us to feel comfortable and give us a foundation on which to build our own unique story.

However, I think it is when we fail to see past the border, fail to recognise that we all live in the same neighbourhood but with different identities and beliefs, that we let our unity become potentially destructive. We then gather our forces to oppose the people on the other side because they are different, because we fear for the existence of our own identity. We forget that what seperates us is simply a border; a fundamentally imaginary line which allows us to enjoy our unique identities but which also divides us and acts as a catalyst to distort our feelings of compassion for our neighbours.

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I suppose what im trying to say is that perhaps the walls around our homes, our places of work or even our countries are there for practical purposes and not to serve as a boundary confining your curiosity or your compassion within. The walls are there to make us feel safe and united, not necessarily to keep out the percieved enemy.

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The earth and the sky run freely underneath, around and above all of the walls, gates and fences. Your imagination and your sense of connection with others do not have to be confined to the boundaries that physically surround you. We are not here for very long and there is only so much time to connect with those around you. Take a chance. Don’t let borders stand in your way.

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Realising potential

What good is a thought in your mind alone? What good is an idea or a concept if it is not met with expression? I believe that intelligence only truly becomes useful when its potential is realised. We have such powerful imaginations and an idea may seem amazing as we replay it in our minds but when it comes to stepping out into the world of action we find it far more difficult to translate that idea into something tangible. Once you start expressing an idea, articulating it to yourself and then talking about it with others, at least you can discover whether it is plausible or not. Once you have spoken or written about it you can then see it more realistically and decide whether or not it is possible or feasible for you at that particular time in your life.

Thinking alone can be a debilitating thing. Seeing the world through the lense of your thoughts without experimenting, without testing your ideas to see whether they have validity can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and can further demotivate you. Instead of constantly thinking about something, it may be far more rewarding to put your idea to the test. Get out there and talk to someone about it and try out what you’ve been considering. Perhaps we should give thinking a break and experiment a bit.

Instead of wandering around in our minds we should try wandering around in the real world. That’s all for now 🙂

How do we ensure a clean and sustainable water supply?

Water makes up the majority of our own bodies and the majority of the planet itself. It quenches our thirst on a hot day or when we have had one too many drinks the night before. But I find that in both the western and the eastern world (the limited parts that I have been lucky enough to visit) we waste it as if it were infinite and indestructible.

I think it’s strange how we pour the wastes of our world into the most pure, delicate and important substance we have. So important that without it we would die in a matter of days. So amazing that it quenches thirst and nourishes without any additives. Yet we pollute it with our own excrement, use it carelessly and mix it with chemicals so harmful we wouldn’t touch them. Only later to find clean, drinkable sources depleted. We may be drying up our planet and ourselves with our disingenuous means of waste disposal and our dangerous affinity for harmful chemicals.

Of course there may be ways to clean up our water supply and hey, the world’s seas and oceans are an abundant source, but I believe that nature will not be forgiving if we squander and abuse what we have now. Surely there is a better way to use this life giving substance. Surely we could have a little more consideration for the importance and delicacy of this vital substance.

Water-less toilets? Organic dish washing liquid and other cleaning materials? Using grey water instead of pure and precious clean water? Paying attention to the amount of water one uses when washing dishes or showering and taking care not to be wasteful.

This is something that really affects the sustainability of our ever growing global society and simple changes we could easily make would transform our world.

Vote on the poll and let me know what you think the most effective solution to sustaining a clean water supply may be.

The Search For Quality

Are you in a good industry?

Well, do you mean do I work with people who do good things for their community or for the environment? Or are you pondering whether are they smart and fun to work with? Perhaps you’are asking how profitable the industry is? You may even be wondering whether I work in a business which is in some way geared to improving society in some way.

Whatever you may be asking, I am confused. Your question was too vague. We as human beings have created language as a highly sophisticated means of communication. Words carry meaning and using words in whichever way we please gives us the ability to express ourselves in such a refined and specific way. This truly is a gift and is one of the reasons I started writing this blog. In an attempt to express myself as honestly as I can and to encourage others to express themselves honestly as well, leading to a more meaningful conversation about the world around us.

When we are lazy in the way in which we use language, we waste that gift. This reminds me of pop music. Pop music is all around us. We hear it in stores, on the radio, at parties, at events and on the television. Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Psy and many more. The melodies of these songs are all so similar and the lyrics are shallow, meaningless and repetitive. We are constantly subjected to this stream of low quality expression and as a result I think we accept that this is how we should be communicating and expressing ourselves.

I believe that with just a bit of effort, by really focusing on what we mean when we speak, being clear of our intention, we can articulate ourselves in such a way that we feel connected and we feel alive when we speak. The listener is also treated by the coherence of your words and that sound travels into them and activates that part of them that wants to understand deeper and will attempt to respond in an equally thoughtful and harmonious way. This is what we are capable of, not merely junk expression with a few severely overused words, phrases and even ideas. The times when we simply repeat stories of what we did on that vacation or what someone said to you earlier are disappointing and a waste of energy. Think about the cliches that run through endless streams of mainstream films, songs and music videos. All of these interactions train your brain to go sleep. There is nothing to figure out, nothing to wonder about, only new faces carrying out the same old plots.

Surely we can push ourselves to explore and to be on the lookout for quality and new ways of thinking, speaking and acting. This can apply to how you interact with people, how you express yourself and even how you live your own life, day to day. Do you say the same things to the same people in the same way every day? Or do you stay open as to what may happen if you do things a different way, choosing to see the potential of your words and actions to be more effective and more meaningful.

Don’t settle for the same old. Turn your back on low quality and embrace your ability to articulate yourself clearly.

Clarity in nature
Clarity In Nature

Relaxation – Finding A New Perspective

The dream world

Compared to our waking lives, dreams are often considered the more mysterious state of being. But I think our waking state is the real mystery. I think we have only began to understand what life is and the dream state is a reflection or an interpretation of our waking experiences. So instead of looking for meaning in our dreams in and of themselves, we should be looking for meaning in our lives, using our dream experiences as a mirror. The dreamer in you is the guide to enhancing your understanding of life.

I remember my dreams so often and often have amazing experiences in them. I don’t try to analyze them in detail. I just recall them because the feeling was good or the imagery was stunning. I suppose this is a reflection of something good in your life while a bad dream or nightmare may be an indication of some negative feeling or experience in your waking life. This feeling can help you to determine what is worrying you or even what course of action to take.

At the least, recalling a (good) dream is an awesome feeling and is different from most other modes of being. It’s like standing on a mountain and looking down at tiny cars moving at the most gradual of paces; a way of letting go of worries and fears and entertaining the possibility that your problems are not as big as you think.

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Another way of viewing life from this light and dreamy angle is observing anything natural for a few moments. This will reveal to you the depth which exists in a tiny space of life. Look at your hand up close. See how much detail there is? How about looking at a tree up close? Have you ever thought about how much life and detail is in such a seemingly insignificant place?

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Instead of seeing dreams or any alternative views as an escape from our lives, a fantasy or another world completely, perhaps we would be wise to go deeper into these experiences and discover something; a feeling or a realisation that we may carry into our everyday lives improving them in a sustainable way. Something we may otherwise have been unaware of, living in our linear, routine, rather limited world. Music that you love can also take you on a similar journey of discovery if you’re willing to relax and just go with it. I like listening to artists like Zero 7 or Phalaeh to get into a super chilled state. A state of relaxation in which feeling something non-linear, something ethereal is not strange, it is a symptom of true relaxation.

Often our thinking minds sabotage our inclination toward the unknown, the mysterious, the awe inspiring, in an attempt to protect us. I argue that we should sometimes try to relinquish such thoughts and juuuuussst reeelaaaaxxxx. From this state, maybe we can break free of stress and bad habits and rewire ourselves for the better.

What other forms of alternative perspectives open the way for self discovery? Think about it and leave a comment.

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Sensory Assault

I’ve started to notice that I when I watch movies these days, I’m more aware of the quality of the production and how it makes me feel. For example, when watching The Conjuring with my good friend Josh the other day, I realised how certain scenes were seriously creepy and how it actually made me a bit uneasy for a few days. Yes its only a movie, but just how well can the mind and the body distinguish between virtual reality and actual reality? How much of what we see on the screen and how we feel afterward do we carry into our lives?

In his book Four arguments for the elimination of television Jerry Mander argues that “The viewer must deliberately inhibit the neural pathways between visual data and the autonomic nervous system, which stimulates movement and mental attention. To do otherwise than inhibit the process would be ridiculous. The viewer is left in a passive, but also frustrated state.” If we were to run and hide behind the couch or grab a sharp object to protect ourselves we’d be considered crazy, so we subconsciously or in some cases consciously stop ourselves from acting on our instincts or even expressing our feelings when watching TV or a movie. This is confusing for your body/mind and I think that violence in movies can be far more intense than other modes of behavior on the screen, increasing this sense of confusion.

When I was younger I had no issues with playing playstation games in which you blow people up with rocket launchers or are thrown into a Colosseum and have to kill multiple adversaries with a sword. I don’t recall ever taking that violence with me into the real world, but who’s to say it didn’t contribute to having nightmares or feelings of fear or anxiety? The intensity with which some scenes of violence are produced in film, TV or games can be quite amazing. There have been major advancements in special effects and graphics which are incredibly stimulating, but I often find that if I watch a movie at the cinema I sometimes find that the screen is too bright or the sound effects are too intense.

Trick art action, no violence required!
Trick art action, no violence required!

Violence in certain kinds of films, games and TV shows can be quite overwhelming. But more than the mere presence of violence or the visual effects, it is the praise that is paid to the characters committing the acts that I find disturbing. For example, when the violent scenes are a representation of some real world act, such as a gun fight between criminals and some authority, characters playing people of authority are seen as heroes and are mourned when injured. But when ‘the bad guys’ are harmed or killed it is praised and seen as a victory. I get the idea of good versus evil, but what kind of values are being projected when murder is justified depending on who does the killing?

Let’s look at Liam Neeson. He is quite a force to be reckoned with in Taken. He kicks ass fighting the heinous cause of human trafficking. Fair enough. The bad guys are sleazy, Liams martial art skills are impressive and I’m sure everyone feels a sense of redemption when he hurts the bad guys. But, it’s to the point of gross and ridiculous the amount of people he kills and cars he wrecks. This is what action movies are all about but again, it’s the attitude toward the violence that doesn’t make sense to me. He walks away with his happy family leaving behind a trail of hardcore murder! Hmm.. What I find even more disturbing is when a nonchalant attitude and even a status is attached to the violence, a ‘cool’ element.

“You make a move and I’ll break your face…Tony, I swear to God. I’m gonna blow his face off.” The Godfather Ironman 3

An example of this is Ironman. This film is extremely popular among young kids. I know when I was in Korea, my students loved this dude. He’s wealthy, a tech wiz and he’s a hero. But I don’t like the idea that by killing so many people, by destroying the enemy with rockets and bullets, you win. It is a fiction but when a film is so hugely popular with kids, surely there are better ways to portray the hero.

I believe that as long as certain perpetrators of violence are praised whilst others are demonized we’ll always have conflict, and it would be awesome to see less of this model being used in films. In a world where we struggle to see past one anothers’ differences,  where there exists real conflict and violence, a medium as prolific and influential as film could do better than to glamourise explosions and decapitation. Its a desensitising to, and in some cases flat out promotion of certain forceful and unethical organisations and the violent acts they take. There is also much promotion of false stereotypes. I won’t go into the demographics of who the bad guys and who the good guys usually are but I would love to see a decrease in movies that promote conflict and violence. There is something these films that appeals to us, but maybe we should become conscious of how absurd some of these scenes are and what the message being conveyed is.

“TV is not a mirror, it is a billboard and anyone who pays their money can put their message into the trip. This is an extraordinarily insidious situation.” Terence Mckenna.

For me, I now steer clear of most action movies, unless they promise to have some meaning behind the madness, a sense of quality or something unique. Otherwise its just more blood and more explosions.

Whatever movies we watch, stories we hear, books we read, nothing is more true than your own experience. Nothing should distort your perception of reality and bring you down. If something you are experiencing is too violent, too boring, too weird for you, I say walk away. If it is true that movies imprint on our minds, it might be better to choose movies that exhibit qualities that are in line with how we want to feel and what we want to experience. 

If you enjoyed reading this post, check out this ted talk which relates to what I’ve written:

10 Reasons To Love South Africa

It may have been raining in Joburg for six days straight, but there are still countless awesome things about living in South Africa. Here are ten that have had a positive affect on me.

1. The sky;  Almost every day, hours of sunlight provide us with warmth and keep us healthy. The expansive sky above is decorated with clouds and a wide spectrum of colours for our visual pleasure all day long.

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2. Variety of life; The variety of life with which we share this planet is around us all the time. The presence of birds, ants, beetles, bees, dragonflies, bats and so much more coupled with the sounds they make are invaluable to our health. Having this diversity of life around you helps you grow in ways that are not taught at school and are certainly not emphasised at the workplace. Unlike developed countries, we still have an abundance of natural beauty available for us to appreciate and spend time in.

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3. Trees; The vast amount of green all around us absorbs noise and air pollution, provides us with shade, cools the air and gives us luscious and tranquil surroundings. Please don’t speed past the beauty around you, take the scenic route and notice how beautiful our country is.  I believe it’s so important to keep our natural environment clean and strong and you can do that by becoming more aware of your surroundings.

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4. Naturally connected; As South Africans we have the innate ability to really care about nature more than most. We’re connected to it because we spend much of our time close to it. I think this is a great advantage and increases our sense of well being and love for the place we call home. The cold, grey, lifeless bodies of metal and cement so prolific in developed counties will never be as beautiful, comforting or valuable as living, life supporting ecosystems.

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5. Sincerity; We can greet and chat to people with whom we do business in a real and relaxed way. We talk to one another as people, not merely as customer and service provider. In SA these interactions have the potential to be more like a tiny relationship than a transaction, and in my experience it’s really not the same overseas. The leads on to the next point.

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6. Friendliness; We’re some of the worlds friendliest people. When traveling I found that people were really receptive to South Africans and went out of their way to mention how most South Africans they had met were kind and polite! Haha.. Nice!

7. Celebration; It is part of our culture to celebrate and it is OK to be randomly happy. We work as hard as we need to and relax thereafter. I think the ability to relax and celebrate is important and this helps us to be more balanced.

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8. Culture; Our country is diverse, with so many languages, cultures and traditions. Every day is challenging and the opportunity to learn and grow is around every corner. We should embrace our differences, no matter how difficult it may be.

9. Freedom of expression; Walking barefoot occasionally or taking your shirt off at a sporting event or braai is OK! Many people in this country are not economically free, but we are ALL free to express ourselves, dress how we want and speak our own language. There is very little cultural pressure, and this freedom is one of the inadvertent benefits of having a far from cohesive society! 

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10. Sport; Many of us love sharing the experience of watching or playing sport together whether it is cricket, soccer, rugby, tennis, golf or another sport. Sport is fun, healthy and brings us together. It is also fortunate that children have the opportunity to develop physically as well as intellectually and get to spend plenty of time outside.

So that’s my list, it is what I find awesome about my home. I hope you enjoyed it and can think of many other great things about SA.

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